Vegan Mocha Cupcakes

My best friend Kori and I have known each other since the 1st grade, were inseparable in high school, attended rival colleges 15 minutes apart yet 600 miles from our hometown, and now both find ourselves together back in CT. So when her birthday rolled around a few weeks ago, I was excited to hand-deliver her some delicious treats. The tricky part is Kori’s vegan, meaning she chooses not to eat any animal products, including eggs, butter, and cream — the holy trinity of baking ingredients. I have a great amount of respect for her passion and dedication to the cause of animal rights, and really wanted to make a batch of cupcakes that were certainly vegan, but primarily delicious.

If you’re vegan, baking for a vegan friend, or just in an animal-friendly mood, I think chocolate is definitely the way to go. (Most cocoa powders do not contain dairy, but check the label to make sure it doesn’t include lactose.) Chocolate’s rich and deep flavors help mask some of the alternate ingredients found in vegan baked goods that can sometimes tip off those accustomed to cupcakes full of eggs and real butter. After all, my mission was to please not only Kori, but the rest of her animal-product-eating family as well. I must say that my mission was definitely accomplished, and these cupcakes were enjoyed by vegans, omnivores, and 2-year-olds alike.

Although I couldn’t have wished for a tastier end-result, I must admit my visions for the frosting weren’t completely met. I wanted to pipe tall mountains of mocha “butter”cream goodness, but the frosting never really kept its shape. I blame the vegan margarine, and more confectioners sugar might have helped thicken the consistency, but the frosting was already sweet enough. Cutting back on the amount of coffee might help, possibly just a few tablespoons instead. Any tips for making pipe-able vegan frosting? Although it might not have been the best for piping, Kori’s sister mentioned that it’d make a great filling for whoopie pies and I totally agree.

Vegan Mocha Cupcakes

For the vegan chocolate cupcakes: adapted from Love and Olive Oil

2 cups coconut milk
2/3 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup almond meal
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper liners
– In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract
– In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
– With the mixer on low-speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until mixture is uniform and smooth (do not overmix)
– Pour batter in liners, filling cups no more than 2/3 full
– Bake 18-20 inutes, or until cake tester comes out clean
– Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely

For the vegan coffee frosting:

1/2 cup soy margarine, softened (I used Earth Balance)
1/4 cup coffee
1 tsp espresso powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1-1/2 tsp vanilla

– Brew coffee and dissolve espresso powder in it while still hot. Place coffee in fridge to cool
– Once cooled, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the margarine and coffee until light and fluffy
– With the mixer on medium-low, add the sugar in 3 additions, beating well after each
– Add the vanilla and beat until uniform and well-combined
– Frost cupcakes and top with dark chocolate shavings

Recipe yields 24 cupcakes

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16 Responses to “Vegan Mocha Cupcakes”

  1. #
    oneshotbeyond — August 17, 2010 @ 12:09 am

    man they sure look pretty! I love the turquoise cups they are in.

  2. #
    Baa Baa Cupcake — August 17, 2010 @ 12:53 am

    looks yummy!

  3. #
    Joanne — August 17, 2010 @ 1:31 am

    I found myself baking some vegan goods recently also as I was a mentor for this summer program that had quite a few vegans…and I’m never one to make anyone feel left out! I found the cupcakes I made surprisingly light but yeah. I never really GOT the frosting.

    These look fantastic!

  4. #
    kcrosson — August 17, 2010 @ 2:22 am

    probably the best thing i’ve eaten all summer…. and definitely the highlight of my vegan birthday debacle!!

  5. #
    cookies and cups — August 17, 2010 @ 1:06 pm

    I have never tried to do vegan cupcakes..I definitely want to give them a shot, though!

  6. #
    Kamber — August 17, 2010 @ 2:55 pm

    Try using half vegan margarine and half non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (like Earth Balance or Spectrum) for a pipe-able vegan frosting. The shortening will make it more stable at room temperature. Also, try using straight brewed espresso rather than coffee. You will need less liquid if you use a single shot of espresso, which will also give you a firmer frosting, but you still have that pure espresso flavor. Good luck!

  7. #
    Ellen — August 17, 2010 @ 3:02 pm

    I usually use the same amount of Earth Balance you do and can produce thick buttercream icing. I think the coffee made your vegan icing runny. I make a very similar vegan icing and usually only add 2-3 tablespoons of soymilk (if needed). Maybe more espresso powder and less or no coffee.

  8. #
    Lisa — August 17, 2010 @ 3:09 pm

    Just came over from “Cupcakes take the Cake” and I read you had a problem with the frosting. (BTW, these look fab!)

    I also use Earth Balance when I bake for my friends who have dairy allergies BUT my frosting turns out really well. I use the original buttery spread. Not sure if that’s what you used?

    Also, if you can reduce the amount of liquid from your coffee that also helps. I have a mocha frosting I make with instant coffee instead of brewed. Proportion: 1/2 tsp granules to 1 tsp hot water. Increase it to your taste. Let sit for at least an hour for best flavor.

    I hope that helps! I would love to know :)

  9. #
    Jennifer — August 17, 2010 @ 7:33 pm

    I love the turquoise wrappers too. These look beautiful & yummy. :)

  10. #
    Erica — August 17, 2010 @ 9:28 pm

    You are all so right! Obviously decreasing the amount of liquid is the same thing as upping the sugar — I must really still be in summer mode and not be thinking clearly. I’m going to change my suggestions to include that, thanks for your suggestions!

  11. #
    Rose — August 18, 2010 @ 8:58 am

    Hi there, ive just come across from cupcakes take the cake.
    These cupcakes look delicious! And I adore the colour of the wrappers.
    As everyone else has said for the frosting, more icing sugar or less liquid. I have trouble making pipable cream cheese vegan frosting, it seems to not pipe too well.
    Looking forward to browsing your recipes, Im following you now :)


  12. #
    teatimewithlin — August 27, 2010 @ 2:33 pm

    Those cupcakes look amazing! As a vegan reader, I love that you have a vegan cupcake recipe up! I can’t wait to try this!

  13. #
    Niala — October 30, 2010 @ 3:50 am

    If you want a nice thick stand-up vegan frosting simply make an American Buttercream using Spectrum Naturals Organic All Vegetable Shortening instead of butter. Add whatever flavoring you desire. If it’s coffee try Medaglia D’Oro instant espresso. I use it all the time in chocolate recipes.

    The cool thing about vegetable shortening is it withstand heat really well. Cheers!

  14. #
    Lauren — June 27, 2012 @ 4:34 pm

    2 questions:

    1) do you mean the coconut milk from a can that you cook with or the refrigerated coconut milk that you can drink?

    2) are the frosting ingredients listed above the original amounts you used, or did you change them after you tried it again?

    • Erica — June 28th, 2012 @ 5:07 pm

      1) Coconut milk from a can
      2) I didn’t try it again so the ingredients listed are the original amounts

      Good luck!!

    • Lauren — July 18th, 2012 @ 3:57 pm

      These things are serious! They make me almost want to be a vegan. I’m blogging about it and will be posting it tonight, if you’re interested. I made a few changes to the frosting and it came out perfect!

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